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Weekly Column

Each week a small segment of Vernon County history is published in the county papers.


For the week of 5/19/2019
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Current Viroqua Mayor Karen Mischel will portray long-ago mayoral candidate Tilda Omundson in the Vernon County Historical Society’s upcoming Cemetery Walk. The walk will be held on Sunday, June 2, at 4PM, at the Viroqua Cemetery. The theme of this year’s walk is centennials, and one of the centennials is women’s right to vote.

During this past March, Women’s History Month, we explored Tilda Omundson’s life in this column. Born in Springville in 1875, Tilda campaigned around Vernon County for women’s suffrage in the early 1900’s. She gained the leadership and organizational skills necessary for this campaign through her membership in the Viroqua Literary Club and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and through her work as a teacher.

After the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by 36 states, a process that was completed by August of 1920, the majority of women in the U.S. gained the right to vote. Tilda then went on to become more involved in politics, running for Viroqua mayor in 1934 (she lost) and running for Viroqua City Council in 1953 (she won!).

We are thrilled that this historic female politician will be played by a current female politician. Learn more about Tilda and other historic figures buried in the Viroqua Cemetery at the Cemetery Walk on June 2. The walk begins at the cemetery gate at 4PM. Most of the walk will be on paved surfaces in the old part of the cemetery. A donation of $5 is requested. Refreshments will be served afterward in the gazebo.

Summer is almost here, and that means that the museum’s hours will soon be expanding. Beginning on Saturday, June 1, the museum will switch to its summer hours of Monday through Friday, noon to 4PM, and Saturday, 10AM to 2PM. These hours will last through the months of June, July, and August.

The arrival of summer also means that the historic Sherry-Butt House Museum will be opening for tours. The House is open from 1 to 5PM on summer Saturdays and Sundays plus Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Opening day is Saturday, May 25.


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For the week of 5/12/2019
by Kristen Parrott, curator

1918 was the year that the Great War, now called World War I, ended, and 1919 was the year that the American Legion began. Stories from these two centennials will be shared at the Vernon County Historical Society’s annual Cemetery Walk on Sunday, June 2, at 4PM, at the Viroqua Cemetery.

Costumed actors will portray the lives of (among others) Jane Butt, Elmer Eugene Hall, Captain Adolph Heinz, and Captain Charles Butters. These four were all Viroqua citizens who were involved in the war and/or the Legion, and who now lie buried in the Viroqua cemetery.

As was mentioned in this column last November, Jane Butt, daughter of Civil War Colonel Cyrus Butt, entered the Red Cross just as the Great War was ending. She was sent overseas to France, where she worked as a hostess at an American Officers’ Club in Paris, providing the officers with “wholesome” entertainment to keep them out of trouble while they were waiting to go back home.

Elmer Eugene Hall served in the army during WWI, enlisting in April of 1918 in Viroqua. He was discharged in June of 1919 in New York, and returned home to Vernon County. Six months later, he became a charter member of the Viroqua post of the American Legion. The Legion had been founded earlier that year as a national organization for returning service men.

Another charter member of the Viroqua post was Adolph Heinz. An immigrant from the country now called the Czech Republic, Adolph established himself as an attorney in Viroqua before enlisting and serving in France. He rose to the rank of captain, and after the war he was the first Post Commander of Viroqua’s American Legion.

The first Chaplain of the Viroqua post was the Rev. Charles Butters. Butters was a Methodist minister and, with his wife, also worked for a time as superintendent of the Vernon County Asylum. In addition, Butters had a long military career, serving during the Spanish-American War, at the Mexican border conflict, and in France during WWI.

Learn more about Butt, Butters, Hall, and Heinz at the Cemetery Walk on June 2. The theme of this year’s walk is centennials, and several centennials will be explored in addition to those of WWI and the Legion. The walk begins at the cemetery gate at 4PM. Most of the walk will be on paved surfaces in the old part of the cemetery. A donation of $5 is requested.


Eugene Hall with family
WWI veteran Elmer Eugene Hall (3rd from left in front) with his siblings Clarence, Elda, and Harold, and their parents John and Effie Hall behind, on April 27, 1940.


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The previous two articles:

May 5, 2019

April 28, 2019